Five SOL teams advanced to Wednesday’s second round of the District One AAA Tournament. To view photos of the Neshaminy/Radnor and CR South/Avon Grove games, please visit the Photo Gallery.
#8 NESHAMINY 2, #25 RADNOR 0
Brittany Sheenan is as close to automatic as it gets when it comes to scoring goals. The senior captain scored on a penalty stroke to send the Redskins into halftime with a 1-0 lead over the Red Raiders. She also had a hand in the Redskins’ second goal, sending a cross that Abby Alexis turned into a goal.
Talk to senior captain Sarah Mitchell, and it doesn’t take long to figure out how valuable Sheenan is to her squad.
“It’s great having Brittany,” the Redskins’ senior goalie said. “She scores when we need her to, and she knows how to finish.
“If you don’t have that on your team – you can’t win without scoring. I know what it’s like to go against someone like that, and it’s intimidating as a goalie to know this girl is an awesome shooter and knows how to finish.”
While Sheenan may be the ultimate finisher, the Redskins’ defense, according to coach Caitlin Koczynski, quietly turned in a stellar performance of its own on Monday.
“Our defense played amazing,” the Redskins’ second year coach said. “There were only two shots on us the whole game.
“This whole season - especially now at this important part of the season – they really stepped up and are working great as a unit.”
Anchoring the defense in front of Mitchell are Juliette Rihl, Erin Bedesem, Emily Curtin and Annie Kopera.
“Our defense played very well today,” Mitchell said. “They didn’t let them get a lot of shots off. Games like that are very important to me because a bad mistake can ruin the whole game, especially a game like today where the first half ended 1-0.
“We also had very good defensive corners. I only had two shots on goal, and neither of them were too horrendous. I’m very proud of my defense. I think that it will definitely carry through to the next game. We have a (veteran) defense, and they came out strong today and didn’t let anything through.”
The win was the first in the postseason for Neshaminy since 2008
“This was a really big win because our team has struggled over the years,” Mitchell said. “Making it into the playoffs was huge for us, but winning this game and advancing to the next round was even more important for us.”
As a result of their win, the Redskins (15-3-1) will host Central Bucks West in a second round game on Wednesday.
“This is super exciting,” Koczynski said. “The girls are playing great. They’re thrilled, and hopefully this will carry into the rest of the season.”
To read Jason Renard’s game story, please click on the following PhillyBurbs.com link:
#9 CENTRAL BUCKS WEST 2, #24 METHACTON 1
Heather Zezzo scored her first of two goals in the opening five minutes of the game.
“We came out really strong,” coach Casey Hughes said. “We let down a little bit after that. I think we were a little nervous the rest of the first half because they came back and scored five minutes later.”
Methacton’s Alexa Hoover scored the equalizer at the 21:19 mark, and the two teams went into halftime deadlocked 1-1.
“She just dribbled through two or three of our girls and put it in,” Hughes said. “We had a good talk at halftime, and they came out very strong in the second half, controlling the ball and using great possession passes.”
Zezzo scored a goal that turned out to be the game winner, using an Erick Fiorelli assist.
“We were able to hold the lead,” Hughes said. “We were playing strong. My defense was playing well. It was really nice to get the first win in district play. None of them are experienced in the playoffs at all, so it was very exciting.”
Hughes lauded the standout performance of right midfielder Kate Varallo.
“She’s one of those players that has been on and off this season,” the Bucks’ first-year coach said. “I have been trying a lot of people at the right back position, and she just really stepped up. She played poised field hockey the entire game. She was making great possession passes, staying tough, staying low and winning the 50-50 balls and was really doing well on the right side of the field for us.”
For Hughes, a Souderton grad, there were more than a few familiar faces on the other side of the field. Former Souderton coach Mary Ann Harris, who led the Indians to districts in each of her 20 seasons at the helm, is a volunteer assistant at Methacton, and former Souderton assistant Sarah Quintois is the head coach. Former Souderton assistant Joan Moser is also on the sidelines for the Warriors.
“It definitely felt good to beat a team that I know is so well coached,” Hughes said.
The Bucks (15-5) advanced to Wednesday’s second round when they will travel to Neshaminy to face the eighth-seeded Redskins.
“It’s definitely exciting,” Hughes said. “I’m familiar with district play with Souderton always making it to districts. It’s exciting for my girls. It’s uncharted water for them. I’m hoping they can keep it going and keep doing what they’re doing.”
#11 COUNCIL ROCK NORTH 3, #22 WEST CHESTER EAST 1
The Indians opened up a 2-1 halftime lead and never looked back on their way to Monday’s opening round win.
“I told them – no one expected us to do this with our youth, but they have come together as a team,” coach Heather Whalin said. “I forget what class they’re in – that’s how tight this team is.
“We have four seniors and only three have played in a playoff game. People don’t realize how young we are, but graduating 11 players puts you there.”
A goal by Alex Kuzma spotted the Indians an early 1-0 lead, but West Chester East came back to knot the score. With 5:49 in the first half, Kuzma connected for her second goal, this time using an assist from Amrit Ahluwalia.
With 1:59 remaining in regulation, Kate Keller turned a pass from teammate Jennica Jonovich into an insurance goal, sealing the win for the Indians.
“That was huge because they were coming down on us a lot,” Whalin said. “The first half we really controlled the game, and the second half they came out pretty fired up, and they controlled most of the game in our half.
“Our defense stepped up huge, our goalie stepped up huge.”
The Indians’ coach went on to acknowledge the combo of Jonovich and Keller.
“Jennica is a freshman, but she played like a senior today,” Whalin said. “Kate Keller started out as a back for us, then we moved her up to a mid and then we put her up at left forward, and she’s been clutch. She’s just been scoring when you don’t expect her to score. She will do anything you ask, and she’s such an athlete.”
The Indians (14-5) will take on sixth-seeded West Chester Henderson in Wednesday’s second round.
To read field hockey beat writer Karen Sangillo’s game story, please click on the following PhillyBurbs.com link: http://www.phillyburbs.com/sports/high_school/courier/kuzma-leads-cr-north-to-opening-round-win/article_dffc523d-f132-5bad-8970-53234e66e26a.html
#15 COUNCIL ROCK SOUTH 3, #18 AVON GROVE 2 (2 OT)
As time was winding down in the second grueling overtime period, Kristen Meihofer considered asking coach Lisa Belz for a much-needed break.
“I’ve had pretty bad back problems, so I have to come out of most games, and I was very sore by that time,” the Rock South forward said. “I almost told my coach I had to come out, but I thought, ‘No, I have to push through it.’”
Belz and Meihofer’s Golden Hawk teammates are certainly glad she did just that. It was Meihofer scoring the game winner during a flurry of activity in front of the cage, propelling Rock South to the dramatic win.
“Afterwards, I was like, ‘Now, I can sit down and rest,’” Meihofer said. “It was such a relief. Obviously, it was joyful because we had just won our playoff game, but it was definitely more of a relief, especially because we were all so sore at the end.”
Perhaps no one was happier than Belz to see Meihofer end it in OT.
“I was the first one sprinting out on the field,” the Golden Hawks’ coach said. “You’re biting your nails during the game, but when you win, it’s just so thrilling.”
The Red Devils actually got on the scoreboard first with a goal midway through the first half.
“We came out extremely flat,” Belz said. “I would say it took us almost the whole first half to get going.”
With five minutes remaining in the half, Meihofer answered with a goal to knot the score, using a Mollie Sheehy assist.
“In the first half, we didn’t come out that strong,” Meihofer said. “We realized how much this meant, and it hit us that this could be the last game for our seniors.
“After our halftime talk, we all got pumped up, and we came out strong.”
With 13 minutes remaining in regulation, the Golden Hawks went on top 2-1 after an Alexis Carroll goal. That lead held up for all of five minutes as Avon Grove came back to knot the score, setting the stage for the dramatic overtime periods.
“I feel as though we did come out strong in overtime, especially the second overtime,” Meihofer said. “We were so tired and sore, and everything was on the line for us, especially the seniors.
“A lot of fans came out to this game, and that motivated us.”
It looked as though the game might well be destined for penalty strokes when neither team scored in the first 15-minute OT, and the score was still deadlocked with time winding down in the second.
“We definitely thought about it,” Meihofer said. “We didn’t really want to go to strokes. Even though we’re not really a stroke team, a couple of us have practiced them in case we had to use them during a game.
“It was in the back of my mind when we were playing because I just wanted to get the overtime over with.”
The idea of strokes went out the window when Meihofer delivered the game winner, propelling the Golden Hawks into Wednesday’s second round.
“We were really excited,” senior Melissa Finor said. “We would have rather it went in earlier, but we were excited that we finished off the way we did.”
“This is really huge for our team because the last couple of years we haven’t made it past this round,” Belz added. “A lot of girls never experienced going beyond this game, so that part in itself is exciting.”
Belz lauded the performances of Carroll, who plays center mid, and Kristin Donohue, the team’s center back.
“Both of them had some really nice runs up the field, and they were sending the ball into the circle a lot, which was helpful offensively,” Belz said. “Colleen Kirlin made a major defensive saves in the first overtime. It was going into the goal, and she saved it and carried it out of the circle. She saved our butts big time.
“Our sweeper, Melissa Finor, also played an excellent game. They had a couple of really good forwards, and she stepped up and won a lot of 50-50 balls and cleared the ball really well.”
According to Finor, maintaining your composure is key on the defensive end.
“There’s a lot of pressure because if it gets past you it goes right to goal,” she said. “You have to stay composed the whole game, and you can’t get worked up about the little mistakes.”
The Golden Hawks (13-5-1) have earned a rematch with second-seeded Central Bucks South in Wednesday’s second round.
“It’s a lot of fun because it’s my senior year,” Finor said. “If we lose, I’m done with field hockey forever.
“This is a good accomplishment. We’re all proud and want to go as far as we can.”
To read field hockey beat writer Karen Sangillo’s game story, please click on the following PhillyBurbs.com link: http://www.phillyburbs.com/my_town/hamptons/cr-south-outlasts-avon-grove/article_1e2510ea-3f16-5d0a-985b-273f07bc34d9.html
#20 HATBORO-HORSHAM 2, #13 PERKIOMEN VALLEY 1 (OT)
The Hatters pulled off the biggest upset of the tournament, sending the 13-seeded Vikings home for the season. The Hatters seized early control of the game, scoring the only goal of the first half when Colby Eldridge turned a Carlie Baldus pass into a goal with nine minutes remaining.
“For 20 minutes, we did control the game,” coach Laura Swezey said. “We should have scored more than we did.
“Our passing, moving the ball up the field – we were just on and playing the way we can play.”
The Vikings came to life after Natalie March (Kat Bartkowski) scored nine minutes into the second half to knot the score.
“After that, it was a back and forth battle,” Swezey said.
The Hatters netted the game winner just 46 seconds into the first overtime period, and once again it was Eldridge turning a Baldus pass into a goal, this one the game winner.
“Carlie and Colby did a nice job feeding each other with nice passes,” Swezey said. “Casey (Swezey) really controlled the midfield. She did a nice job distributing the ball to them.
“It was a pretty game to watch. It was a good game.”
The Hatters held an 11-4 advantage in shots and held a 6-5 edge in corners. Goalie Emily Braunewell was credited with one save.
Swezey acknowledged the strong performance of defenders Jane Henry, Jenna Cutilli and Tori Waddington.
“Our defense does a really nice job,” the Hatters’ coach said. “It was a low-scoring game. The defense did a nice job of keeping the ball out of the circle, so there weren’t many corners. Casey was able to help get the ball up the field.”
The Hatters (10-8-1) will face fourth-seeded Unionville in Wednesday’s second round.
#12 GARNET VALLEY 2, #21 WILLIAM TENNENT 0
To read Todd Thorpe’s complete game story, please click on the following PhillyBurbs.com link: http://www.phillyburbs.com/sports/high_school/intel/tennent-bounced-by-garnet-valley/article_2a8d81b9-4c96-5e8a-93f1-221af2b08f64.html
#10 STRATH HAVEN 4, #23 SOUDERTON 1
Don’t be fooled by the final score. This was either team’s game until the Panthers sealed the Indians’ fate with a pair of goals in the final six minutes of the contest.
“I honestly don’t think we were as aggressive as we wanted to be,” coach Lauren Whiteside said. “We couldn’t finish. That’s been our struggle all season, and I think it was evident here.
“It’s a totally, totally different game on a grass field like this. We practiced for it, but we just didn’t adjust. Ninety percent of the time we were with them.”
When it was over, there was some disagreement amongst the players about what may have been the difference between winning and losing.
“Playing on the grass – it’s a lot slower, and you have to work harder,” senior captain Kayla Ruth said.
The Indians are 0-3 in grass game this season.
“You can’t blame it on the grass,” senior captain Bekah Hershey said.
“They really wanted it from the beginning,” senior captain Tabatha Almond said. “Overall, they showed they wanted it more.”
“We didn’t have the heart,” Hershey said.
“It’s not that we didn’t have heart,” Almond said. “We didn’t adjust to the play.”
“We have a team of young girls, and it was a lot of girls first year playing varsity,” Hershey said. “You don’t really realize how much it means.”
The biggest difference in Monday’s game might well have been the simple fact that the Panthers finished and the Indians – who managed just two shots on goal – didn’t. The Panthers led 2-0 before the Indians took their first shot, and they made that one count with Meghan McDermott turning an Abbey Gabriel pass into a goal, sending the Indians into halftime on the short end of a 2-1 score.
They had a chance to knot the score 10 minutes into the second half, but a Panther defender deflected the ball out of harm’s way just before it crossed the goal line. Goalie Jen Bergey kept the Indians within striking distance with a diving save of a shot on the right post, but the Panthers cashed in on a pair of late goals to earn the win.
“That team was totally beatable,” Almond said. “We just couldn’t finish.”
The Indians closed out their season with a 9-9 record.
#7 HAVERFORD 6, #26 NORTH PENN 2
The barrage of goals began when Haverford’s Jess McCarthy scored an unassisted goal at the 18:38 mark of the first half. Sophy Mauk and Rosie Coogan both added goals, sending the Fords into halftime with a commanding 3-0 lead.
“You could definitely tell that the kids were nervous,” coach Shannon McCracken said. “Haverford was a good team, and they took advantage in the circle when we weren’t playing very great defense.
“We had a couple of opportunities in the first half, especially in the first 10 minutes. If we would have been able to capitalize and get an early goal, I think it would have lifted our kids’ spirits. We were playing a little too defensive in the first half.”
The Fords led 5-0 after Morgan Druce and Natalie Bova scored to open the second half. Alexa Gable (Casey O’Donnell assist) broke up the Fords’ shutout bid with a goal at the 18:18 mark of the second half. Kelly McCoy answered with a goal for the Fords before Erika Myslinski scored an unassisted goal for the 6-2 final.
“The girls learned the importance of showing up for the game and being confident in their skills and what got them there,” McCracken said. “I think it was a little overwhelming for some of the kids today.
“They were definitely disappointed because we didn’t play our best game today. It was unfortunate because we had two great practices leading up to the game. We just struggled a little bit defensively in the first half and didn’t get the opportunities offensively. The second half we played so much better offensively.”
The Maidens’ trip to the districts was an unexpected ending after they opened the season with six straight losses.
“The reason I was so pleased about getting into districts was because I kept encouraging them during that 0-6 start that if they worked hard enough we could turn things around,” McCracken said. “It’s so rewarding to see them work so hard and then get the reward of going to the postseason.
“It was a great life lesson for these kids that I’m sure they’ll carry beyond the playing field.
The Maidens closed out the year with a 7-10-2 record.
#5 MOUNT ST JOSEPH ACADEMY 6, #28 UPPER MERION 0
The Vikings (9-9-1) saw their season end at the hands of a powerful Magic squad, but the players walk away with no regrets.
"Despite our loss in the first round, I am so proud of my team," coach Angie Yanocha said. "This was a huge accomplishment for us to even make districts. We don't even know the last official year we made it there, but it could be as many as 30 years.
"We knew we were facing a tough match up going against the Mount. They are fast, strong and very skilled. My girls came out a little nervous as expected, but they didn't give up. We played a much stronger second half. We did really want to at least get a goal against them, but their defense was strong. Overall though, it was a great experience for my girls, and we feel fortunate to have been able to experience a playoff game."